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Issue:- 22 March  2012

Sunday shopping campaigner says "no" to change

AN MEP who campaigned for changes to the Sunday trading laws in the 1990s will be opposing Government plans to relax them further.  Chris Davies, now a Liberal Democrat MEP, was formerly the northern regional organiser for the Shopping Hours Reform Council.  He says that a balance was struck that offends few people, pleases most, and should not be changed now. Davies said:- "The 1950 Shops Act imposed ridiculous restrictions on shops. You could buy 'Playboy' on a Sunday but not a bible. No big stores were allowed to open. The balance we struck ensured that shopping everywhere and for everything could take place for up to 6 hours a day. But we provided employment protection for shop workers who objected to Sunday working, and gave extra freedom for small shops.  Whether you are religious or not, most people like having a rhythm in their lives and the current arrangements for Sunday shopping provide that very well indeed."

No relief for lowest paid in new minimum wage rates

UNISON Chief, Dave Prentis, said that the new minimum wage rates were "Bitterly disappointing and will condemn millions of families to life on the breadline."

Dave Prentis, went on to say:- "While the Chancellor looks set to cut income tax for the very richest, those at the bottom of the pay pile do not have enough to live on. An extra 11p an hour is simply not enough. Millions of workers need a living wage* of £8 an hour to cope with rising prices and keep them out of poverty.  And what message are we sending to our young people when the rates for those under 21 are frozen? They deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and should not be left vulnerable to exploitation.  Of course it is taxpayers who lose out too, as they will have to pick up the in-work benefits bill because of Scrooge employers."

From 1 October 2012, the adult minimum wage rate is set to increase from £6.08 to £6.19 an hour, the Youth Development Rate stays the same at £4.98 an hour as does the rate for 16-17 Year Old Rate at £3.68 an hour. The Apprentice Rate increases from £2.60 to £2.65 an hour.

*The Living Wage is an hourly rate, set independently, every year. It is calculated according to cost of living and gives the minimum pay rate required for a worker to provide their family with the essentials of life. In London the current rate is £8.30 per hour. Outside of London the current rate is £7.20.

Broadband excitement must not mask digital divide

THE CLA is renewing its call for Government to eradicate the digital divide between rural and urban areas in the North after a new survey highlighted the importance of the internet to the country’s economy.

The report from The Boston Consulting Group claims the UK is ranked top of all G20 nations in terms of the amount the internet contributes to its GDP.  But CLA North’s Policy and Public Affairs Director Douglas Chalmers is concerned that statements like this only add to the complacent belief that everyone can join in the "e-boom."

He said:- "The Government minister responsible for communication, Ed Vaizey, has said that most people in the UK can access broadband at a decent price, but this only masks the fact that large geographic areas are currently excluded from useable and affordable internet connections. Our reliance on broadband communication for business purposes can only increase, and the remote rural areas without effective connection will be left behind. This not only adversely affects the sustainability of these businesses and communities, but on a national scale means that they cannot make their potentially significant contributions to the country’s economic recovery."

The CLA has told the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications that the Government needs to provide a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 2 Megabits per second (Mbps) in rural areas to close the widening digital divide.   The Association submitted its response to the Committee's inquiry on superfast broadband stressing that not enough is being done to ensure those who live and work in the countryside have access to even the basic 2Mbps speed, let alone superfast broadband.

Douglas Chalmers added:- "The Government is moving more of its services online and recognises that broadband is essential to the economic well being of rural areas. However, there is no legal requirement to deliver the basic 2Mbps speed that many rural businesses currently struggle to receive."

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Film Review:- "Safe House"
Review by Dasha Ibrajeva

WELL…what I can say - another predictable as hell story about U.S intelligence agents and corruption…BOORIIIING…. Come on Hollywood, when you will come up with new ideas? I guess it was the first time when I fall asleep thrice in the cinema.  I don’t want to say that "Safe House" has a lack of action. On the contrary, it is all about the action and this, probably, is the main problem of this movie (apart from the lack of the plot of course).  During the movie session, you'll be involved into car chases, shootouts, and brutal hand-to-hand fights. However, sometimes there is a feeling that it is too much of everything. Guys are too cool, showdowns are too noisy, blood is too sticky and the denouement is too obvious. Too much shooting, car chases and almighty bang… and then you suddenly realize that you are already fed up with all that.

Plot:-  Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is both lucky and unlucky. He has his dream job; he works in CIA. However, instead of performing the most difficult and dangerous job, he is sitting in a secret apartment in Cape Town, aimlessly killing time in expectation of at least some action. Because of the lack of experience, he cannot be offered more than routine duty at a CIA safe house in South Africa. During one of those duties he meets Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) - the CIA's most dangerous operative, who went rogue. Ten years old quirky fox was selling the secrets for crazy money all around the world. Finally bored Weston can be happy and have some work done, as Frost is transported to the safe house. However, Weston’s happiness won’t be too long: a gang of unknown brutal militants breaks into the secret object and kills everyone except Frost and his newbie caretaker, who were able to escape from the safe house in time. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.

Actors:- The most significant advantage of his movie is actors. Denzel Washington is amazing. His silent serenity speaks louder than words. He fits the role perfectly with his smooth confidence and the ability to become intimidating in a mere moment. He definitely deserves respect.

I also was interested to watch the performance of Reynold, who previously was famous of his comedy roles. Here he discloses himself in very different role. Even sometimes it was quite funny to watch how hysterically he was running around the whole movie and how his face reflected a complete misunderstanding of what is happening, he successfully got through his role. Plus, major credit is due for his final brawl.

"Safe House" has some other talented actors. I would like to highlight Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson, however, their roles are limited. I also enjoyed the performance of Nora Arnezeder. To my mind, this charming and lovely girl brought subtle warmth to the reel of the film.

Overall:- "Let's do as they did" - a frequent and understandable principle how the most Hollywood productions work. Look at the success of your neighbour and do the same. I think it is quite clear which direction was looking the director of "Safe House" Daniel Espinosa, as the movie has so much in common with "Bourne Identity".

Though "Safe House" benefited from strong performances of Washington and Reynolds, it was definitely let down by a thin script and choppily edited action sequences. Sometimes the camera shakes a bit too much and detracts from the viewing experience. The script doesn't try to be deep. There are no soulful dialogues between heroes and the timing is too tightened. There is a desire to reap the eyes on the clock and count the minutes until the end of the session.

To be honest, I did not like "Safe House". I was bored, I was sad, I was waiting for the end, I wanted to do something - something different rather than watching this boring and predictable pseudo-spectacle.  But maybe it was my fault that I was waiting from the movie any kind of originality. Eventually, "Safe House" is quite a decent representative of its genre and it is not supposed to be a whodunit. So if you want to leave your brain on standby and enjoy 2 hours of fisticuffs and shooting then "Safe House" is for you!  Read no more reviews.   Just go and see it...

2 popcorns out of 5...

Help Please With Overnight Acommodation

THE Longton VM Sports and Social Club have been asked for help by 2 members of the Cornish Theatre Company (owdyado) who are attempting to cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End for Charity. The manager of the club, Andrew, has asked us if any of our readers can help. "They have asked if anyone would be willing to provide overnight accommodation on 8 May 2012. If you are willing to put these 2 people up please email me, via the club on 01772 616 974 and I will put you in touch with them."

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